The decision to go as an expatriate on an international assignment and relocate abroad marks a new phase in your life. It’s not only a challenge from the work perspective but also a complete change in your personal life. It’s almost like starting your life from scratch… We have compiled a checklist of all issues every expatriate should keep in mind throughout different stages of the relocation process.
Some corporations have very generous policies with regard to international personnel helping transferees to prepare for relocation abroad. Some others offer a lump sum approach encouraging transferees to handle the relocation by themselves. While some are offered assistance from a relocation services agency from the destination country, high living allowance, outsourced legal and financial counseling, as well as cultural orientation; other companies, or those that are just starting to expand internationally, may not have such tools on hand.
We advise how to get prepared for relocation abroad:
1. Discuss with your employer the exact targets of your international assignment, the estimated duration, and repatriation options after your assignment has finished.
2. Get all detailed information on what your relocation package includes and which costs you would need to bear yourself:
Relocation – would you be offered the services of a relocation agency abroad? Or are you expected to take care of all the errands yourself? Will you be offered reimbursement of the costs if you choose to hire a relocation agency or real estate agent? Or would your employer will offer a lump sum as a part of an installment allowance?
Finance – find out all the details regarding your new expatriate salary, taxation, allowances, and all other benefits in kind. Read about different expats’ allowances in our article.
Real Estate in your home country – would your employer help you in selling your property in your home country if you choose to? Would you be given support to keep your property? Would you be offered trips to visit your home unit?
New Home in host location – would you be offered the services of a real estate agent to support your house search, legal advice to sign up a rental contract, and buying costs reimbursement, if you choose to purchase a property abroad? Which household costs would be paid by your employer?
Health Care System – would you be given private health care insurance designed especially for expatriates, both for you and your family members? Or are you expected to sign up for a public health care system in your host country?
Expat’s Tax Advise – clarify how you will be taxed: according to your local country or German taxation system? If you get tax relief in your local country due to investments or because your spouse is unemployed or earns less, would you be able to keep this benefit? If your spouse would like to work in Germany would (s)he be offered tax advice as well?
Moving costs – how much are you allowed to ship to your host country? If you choose to keep some of your goods in storage in your local country, would your company take the cost? Understand what would be the annual growth allowance of your household during your international assignment so the repatriation costs would not be of a surprise to you if you choose to buy new furniture.
Immigration – who will take care of the immigration procedure for you and your family? Are you being offered immigration support by a specialist or your host HR department will handle the work permit and residency issues?
3. Ask for cross-cultural training in Germany.
4. Clarify all the benefits for your family members:
Education courses for your expat’s spouse due to the pause in her/his career to keep qualifications up to date.
School for your children. If you choose to send your children to an international school, would your employer bear the costs for it? Do you get an allowance for daycare for your baby?
Language courses – Would the company sponsor language courses for you and your family?
5. Discuss how many additional days of holidays you may take due to the move and relocation.
If you are unsure about certain elements of your package, discuss all the questions with both your home and host HR department.